Bonanza Bros.

Platform: Mega Drive
Other Platforms: Playstation 2, Gamecube, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Steam, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Switch
Developer: I.T.L.
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1991
Genre: Platformer - Stealth
Players: 1-2 (Co-op)

The Mega Drive port of Bonanza Bros. trades in the visual flair of the arcade game (while still retaining as much of the charm as possible) for smoothing things out and delivering a somewhat fairer experience, more suited for home play. Depending on which version you're playing, the Bonanza Bros. have either been railroaded into helping the Chief of Police gather evidence against crooked businesses in Badville, or they're private investigators helping out a mysterious businessman whose establishments keep getting robbed. Either way, grab the treasure and make a getaway!

The fundamentals at the same as the arcade game- you have three minutes to clear out each stage of treasures, using your stun guns and ability to move between the - but the execution is different in very small but impactful ways. Movement is probably the biggest sticking point of this port, as it's not quite as smooth and flowing as the arcade game. In particular, your Bonanza Bro will pause before taking a jump which makes dodging bullets more difficult, and there's a very slight pause when moving between the foreground and background which most players probably won't notice but you'll definitely feel it if you played the arcade version a lot. The jumping one is a little unfortunate but both of these can be adjusted to after playing for a little while, and you'll soon be weaving in and out of enemy sight!

Where this home version excells is gently shaving off some of the rougher edges of the arcade game. As well as adding treasures to pick up to a few stages to further encourage splitting up in co-op play, enemy guards are considerably less numerous, especially in later stages (later arcade levels could get quite cramped) and they almost never fire the second they spot you. Some will fire at you as their first action against you, but it is never as immediate as in the arcade. This toned-down aggression makes things a lot less frustrating, as you actually have a margin of error in your favour- something that an early stealth game like this benefits from, given the vagaries of when you can be spotted or not. For some, this may tip the balance perhaps a little too far in the wrong direction, but I think for this game, it works very well at making things that much less frustrating. The removal of two stages may also be seen as a downside, but while one of them (the Antique Store) was a particular favourite of mine, I think shortening the length of the game is a plus in the end, making it just the right length without it getting too long.

The slapstick comedy is still there, as is a good amount of the presentation even with the reduction of the resolution and colours. I also think the soundtrack's a little better in this version, mostly owing to music tracks being shuffled about and tied to more fitting stages. While the arcade version is still going to look much better, I think this home port touches things up a lot in little ways to make it more palatable to a home audience, and it's also widely avaialble, showing up in pretty much all the Mega Drive collections over the years, and if you've ever thought it's just number-boosting fodder, give it an honest try- these boys might surprise you!

For, being an improved comical 'reaction game', Bonanza Bros. (on Mega Drive) is awarded...

In a sentence, Bonanza Bros. (on Mega Drive) is...
A somewhat more accessible sneak-em-up than the arcade version.

Back to the Shorts index!